The Venezuelan Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Roy Chaderton, has vehemently rejected calls from U.S. congressman, Eliot Engel, for the Venezuelan government to accept an OAS mission to monitor this year’s presidential elections.
Chaderton was responding to comments made during Engel’s speech at this week’s special OAS session in Washington, in which the Democrat said that OAS member countries should encourage the Venezuelan government to “invite a robust observation mission from the OAS” to verify the transparency of the Venezuelan elections, maintaining that an “independent OAS observer” would inspire confidence in the Venezuelan people and in the region.
“It both worries and terrorises me at the same time this offer to send a “robust mission” to my country,” responded Chaderton, who added that he would alert the Venezuela’s Ministry of Defence to Engel’s comments.
The Venezuelan representative went on to reject the congressman’s criticisms of Venezuelan democracy as hypocritical, and asked the representatives of other member nations to raise their hands if their countries had been “invaded, defeated or destabilised” by the U.S. government.
“The forest of hands would prevent us from seeing the President of the permanent council,” he said.
Engel had previously launched into a surprise barrage of criticisms aimed at the Venezuelan government during his speech at the special session, alleging that the Chavez administration had “trampled” on the rights of the independent media and was guilty of violating “human and democratic rights”. The Representative cited the example of opposition candidate, Leopoldo Lopez, who was banned from holding public office by Venezuela’s Supreme Court Justice on corruption charges, as proof of his assertions.
In comments that have been widely taken as an attack against new regional organisations, such as the recently established Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Engel also alluded to “rival organisations” which had adopted an exclusionary attitude to the U.S. and Canada, stating that they did not “promote unity or cooperation”. He also continued to make a defence of the decision to exclude Cuba from the OAS summit due to be held in Cartegena, Colombia, on 14 -15 April.
“It remains a dictatorship, rejecting the basic principle of democracy to which the hemisphere has committed itself,” he stated.
Conversely, the Venezuelan diplomat argued for a debate at the Cartagena session on the continued exclusion of Cuba from the regional body and other international organisations.
“For example, with the summit (in Cartagena) we could talk about a very important and very delicate topic, which could open up the way to bring a very important country out of isolation, that finds itself progressively isolated from the international community,” said the Venezuelan representative.
“185 countries have supported the motions against the Cuban embargo, including the most conservative ones,” he said.
In an evolving political context in which an increase in regional organisations acting independently of the U.S. has led observers to debate the continued relevancy of the OAS body in the region, the US Democrat made a case for the organisation and cited it as “vital” for answering to “regional inability” and confronting “democratic backsliding” in the continent.